CLEARWATER — Hours after one homeless man was fatally shot in Tarpon Springs and the man next to him critically wounded, investigators identified Myron Farley as their one and only suspect.
But prosecutors weren’t satisfied with the evidence against him, so they delayed filing charges. Weeks late, another homeless man turned up dead in Clearwater.
Farley, 32, was arrested on Sept. 20 in the Tarpon Springs case, in which he is accused of shooting Brian Kennedy, 56, and Larry Schuff, 54, in the head on Aug. 5, according to court documents. Kennedy died, and Schuff is in a vegetative state.
On Wednesday, Farley was arrested in the death of John Austin Lloyd, 60, whose body was found Sept. 16.
How Farley quickly emerged as a suspect in the first shooting — and how authorities tied him to both — is laid out in an affidavit police from both cities filed as they asked a judge permission to search his mother’s Clearwater apartment, where police found the gun they say was used in both shootings.
After the shooting in Tarpon Springs, several tellers at Florida Capital Bank, 710 East Tarpon Ave., said they had seen a black man wearing a white T-shirt and red shorts approach the wooded area where Kennedy and Schuff were found. Two saw the suspect kneel or crouch down, then heard two shots.
Then, a man and woman sitting on a bench at the nearby Sandpiper Village apartments said they saw a man wearing the same clothing run into the apartment of Farley’s father, Willie Farley Sr.
That man was Myron Farley, who was living with his mother at the Canterbury Oaks complex at 2025 Rogers St. in Clearwater, court records show.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said that at the time he wasn’t comfortable with the eyewitness testimony. The bank tellers were two to three football fields away from the shooting site, and the two people on the bench couldn’t pick Farley out of a photo pack.
“If anybody was holding things up, I would take responsibility for that,” Bartlett said. “I wasn’t comfortable with the evidence they had.”
On Aug. 6, the day after the shooting, investigators went to the apartment of Farley’s mother, Dorothy Campbell Butler. She said Myron wasn’t home, but then police saw him climbing out a window.
The officer searched Farley but found no guns. He denied being in Tarpon Springs when Kennedy and Schuff were shot and let detectives search his room. They didn’t find a gun there, but his mother wouldn’t let them search the rest of the apartment.
Farley was wearing the same clothing witnesses said the Tarpon Springs shooter was wearing, and detectives took it with them.
Almost six weeks later, on Sept. 16, Lloyd was found dead at an abandoned Mobile gas station at 1840 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd. in Clearwater — less than a mile from Butler’s apartment.
Laboratory analysts with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement discovered the next day that the shell casing found near Lloyd’s body matched the shell casings found near Kennedy and Schuff, the affidavit says. That day, Tarpon Springs and Clearwater detectives asked a judge to sign a search warrant, so they could comb through Campbell Butler’s apartment, according to the affidavit accompanying the request.
Among the items police seized was a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun that had been wrapped in a bathing suit and placed on the top shelf of a closet. It has since been linked to both shootings, Clearwater police announced Wednesday.
By the time the search warrant was requested, a prosecutor under Bartlett had reinterviewed the two witnesses sitting on the bench in Tarpon Springs, who are Hispanic, through an interpreter, and she later told Bartlett she was now more comfortable using them as witnesses at trial.
Farley was arrested a few days later in the Tarpon Springs shooting.
“Him committing the second offense and ultimately getting the gun gets you a much stronger case when you collectively look at what happened,” Bartlett said.